Melinda Ann Gates DBE is an American philanthropist and a former general manager at Microsoft. In 2000, she co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband Bill Gates, the world’s largest private charitable organization. Gates has consistently been ranked as one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes. Melinda Ann French was born on August 15, 1964, in Dallas, Texas. She is the second of four children to Raymond Joseph French Jr., an aerospace engineer, and Elaine Agnes Amerland, a homemaker. Melinda has an older sister and two younger brothers.
Melinda, a Catholic, attended St. Monica Catholic School, where she was the top student in her class. At age 14, Melinda was introduced to the Apple II by her father, which later inspired her interest in computer games and the BASIC programming language. Melinda graduated as valedictorian from Ursuline Academy of Dallas in 1982. She earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986 and an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1987. At Duke, Melinda was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Beta Rho Chapter.
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